Language in Scotland

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Scotland is a land of diverse linguistic and cultural heritage. Various languages spoken there over the years fall into two general categories; Germanic languages and Celtic languages. The classification of the Pictish language remains controversial, but it is generally assumed to be another Celtic language. Today, the primary languages spoken are Scots, Scottish Gaelic, and Scottish English.


[edit] Celtic languages

Main article: Celtic languages

The Celtic languages of Scotland can be further subdivided into three more groups. These are the Goidelic languages, otherwise known as Q-Celtic, the Brythonic languages, otherwise known as P-Celtic, and the Pictish language, which seems to have been distinct from both. All three groups are known collectively as the Insular Celtic languages.

[edit] Goidelic languages

Further information: Goidelic languages

The only surviving Goidelic language in Scotland is Scottish Gaelic, still spoken in the Scottish Highlands and the Hebrides by the Gaels.

Galwegian Gaelic, also known as Gallovidian Gaelic, or Galloway Gaelic, is an extinct Goidelic dialect formerly spoken in South West Scotland. It was spoken by the independent kings of Galloway in their time, and by the people of Galloway and Carrick until the early modern period. It was once spoken in Annandale and Strathnith, as well. Both of these languages, along with modern Manx and Irish, are descended from Middle Gaelic, which is descended from Old Gaelic, which is descended in turn from Primitive Gaelic, also known as Invernic, the oldest known form of the Goidelic languages. This form of the language is known only from fragments, mostly personal names, inscribed on stone in the Ogham alphabet in Ireland and western Britain up to about the 6th century.

Goidelic languages were once the most prominent among the Scottish population, but now are restricted to the West.

[edit] Brythonic languages

Main article: Cumbric language
Further information: Brythonic languages

None of the Brythonic languages of Scotland survive to the modern day, though they have been reconstructed to a degree.

The Cumbric language was spoken in the Kingdom of Strathclyde, as well as in Cumbria, in northern England. Cumbric had a great influence on Scottish Gaelic, and on Scots to a lesser extent. [citation needed]

[edit] Pictish language

Main article: Pictish language

The Pictish language is generally understood to be an Insular Celtic language, distinct from both the Goidelic and Brythonic languages. At its height, it may have been spoken from Shetland down to Fife, but was pushed back as Scots, Brythons, and Anglo-Saxons invaded Northern Britain, each with their own languages.

[edit] Germanic languages

Main article: Germanic languages

Two West Germanic languages are spoken in Scotland today; Scots, and Scottish English, a dialect of the English language. The Norn language, a North Germanic language, is now extinct.

[edit] Scots language

Main article: Scots language

Scots, also called Lowland Scots or Lallans, developed in south east Scotland from a northern form of Middle English also known as Early Scots. Scots is unique in that, though there have been attempts at standardising it, the language is made up of many different dialects, so much so that no one may be said to be "true" Scots more so than any other. This is often seen as a mark of pride among Scots.

[edit] Scottish English

Main article: Scottish English

Scottish English is the standardised form of the English language used in Scotland. It has been heavily influenced by Scots, as well as Scottish Gaelic. In the Highlands, Highland English is the preferable form of this dialect. Highland English has been more heavily influenced by Gaelic than all but Hebridean English, spoken in the Western Isles.

[edit] Norn language

Main article: Norn language

Norn is an extinct North Germanic, West Scandinavian, language that was spoken on Shetland and Orkney, off the north coast of mainland Scotland, and in Caithness. After the islands were ceded to Scotland by Norway in the 15th century, its use was discouraged by the Scottish government and the Church of Scotland (the national church), and it was gradually replaced by Scots over time.

Language in Scotland

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